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Why earned media should be your business’ goal

You’ve heard of the GOOD, FAST, CHEAP conundrum – good & fast won’t be cheap. Good & cheap won’t be fast. Fast & cheap won’t be good – well, in an integrated marketing mix Earned Media is the exception to the rule.

Marketing is about making people aware of your product or service, getting them to buy it and like it so much they become ambassadors for you. You can achieve this through a mix of 4 types of media – Owned, Paid, Shared and Earned.

  • Owned media is your own content; blog posts, FAQs, landing pages, sales copy.
  • Paid media is advertising; billboards, TV ads, display ads or social media ads.
  • Shared media is content you make specifically to be shared; aka social media.
  • Earned media is mentions of your product or service in other media which appeared there because of the merits of it: product reviews, word-of-mouth, but especially as part of editorial content.

You should have them all in a well-balanced mix but there are drawbacks.

  • Owned Media: The place your content is the least likely to be seen is your own site.
  • Paid Media: It’s expensive, and not very effective. When was the last time you paid attention to an advert?
  • Shared Media: Organic reach is all but dead. The algorithms have made sure your post cannot be shared very far unless you cough up some money. Social media these days is paid media.

Which leaves Earned Media. Think of earned media as the old school “free publicity”. Like any channel, it requires some investment in time and resources, but it remains “free” because no-one paid media in order to be included. In fact, that aspect is crucial to the definition and success of earned media.

The fastest way to get Earned Media is to inject your opinion, knowledge or expertise into the editorial cycle. Sometimes called “newsjacking” because you hijack the news/editorial cycle to promote yourself.

For every event or issue there is some media interest. The trick is to find the intersection of that with the knowledge and expertise you have. That sweet spot right in the middle is where your Earned Media gold lies. To the media, you hold the expertise they desperately want – because it serves their purpose (to tell a story).

Ride that wave of “free publicity” and reap these benefits:

  1. Credibility

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising poll showed that earned sources are more trusted than branded/owned vehicles such as ads. A favourable mention by trusted and credible media bestows trust and credibility on you.

  1. Control

A reputable media outlet will never run your press release verbatim; however, you have more influence if their starting point is your media pitch, the “angle” you sold them on.

  1. Crisis management

Credibility and control have an enormous benefit if ever there’s a crisis. You not only have an enormous credibility credit (spend it wisely), you have an avenue through which to reach your audience to position your business for the best possible outcome.

  1. Staying power

Earned media has a long tail. The visibility of earned media on search engines doesn’t decline as time passes, articles continue to gain exposure over time as they’re linked by other sources. This truly is free publicity. Earned media you didn’t spend an extra cent to get. Happy days!

  1. SEO (and SERP) benefits

Every piece of Earned Media is usually sliced and diced by the creator. Your radio interview will be published as a transcription or included in a news bulletin. The print edition of the newspaper has an online version. Search engines pick up each of these mentions and connect the dots back to you, your website and your brand.

  1. Value

Media engagement offers more bang for your buck. Most businesses don’t have the budget for big advertising, marketing and PR teams or agencies. Communicating via the news media is a cost-effective way to raise awareness and improve the perception of your business.

Getting Earned Media on your own is possible, but it takes time to build relationships with journalists. A media engagement team like Media Stable already has relationships and experience with the local news media and can help you target the right outlets.

Plus, not every story a business wants to tell is right for Earned Media (one of the other channels may be more suited). Understanding what is likely to earn you coverage requires skills, experience, and judgement most don’t possess. It’s best to get the professionals involved.

By Phil Sylvester, General Manager NSW, Media Stable

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